MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee County judge and jury are now hearing the case against Kevin Kavanaugh, a former aide to then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker. Kavanaugh is charged with stealing funds for veterans and their families.
Walker's former Chief of Staff Tom Nardelli was the first witness to testify in the case. He told the court he noticed things didn't add up in the books for Operation Freedom, a fundraiser meant to raise money for war veterans back in 2006.
In total, Kavanaugh is accused of pocketing nearly $42,000 when he was the treasurer for the local Military Order of the Purple Heart between 2006 and 2009.
"The bottom line is, the defendant used the Military Order of the Purple Heart as his own personal piggy bank. Yes, he wrote checks for legitimate purposes. Yes, he wrote checks to veterans, but he repeatedly wrote checks to cash and put the money in his own pocket," Assistant District Attorney Kurt Benkley said.
Kavanaugh's lawyer says his client was a lousy bookkeeper who often gave needy veterans cash without making them go through the red tape.
"You're going to hear a lot of those vets are homeless. They don't have banking accounts. You're going to hear from one vet who will tell you a lot of vets don't even trust financial institutions. You're going to hear that a lot of these vets, if they do have checking accounts, their checking accounts are overdrawn," Chris Hartley, Kavanaugh's lawyer said.
The trial is expected to last up to 10 days.
The Kavanaugh trial began the same day a subpoena was filed with the court requiring Gov. Scott Walker to testify in the trial of a former Milwaukee County staffer.
Kelly Rindfleisch is accused of using County time to conduct campaign work for a Republican who lost a lieutenant governor race in 2010. Rindfleisch was Walker's deputy chief of staff when he was the Milwaukee County Executive.
Rindfleisch has pleaded not guilty to four felony counts of misconduct in office.
The subpoena has been served on Walker's attorney, Michael Steinle and has been filed with Milwaukee County Judge David Hanscher.
Walker was previously identified by a prosecutor as a potential witness in the Oct. 15th trial. Rindfleisch is one of six Walker associates facing charges that arose from secret investigation.
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